First Playoff Win At Home: April 28, 1979
It didn’t take long for the Islanders to make the post-season. By year three they were challenging for a Cup. They even faced off against the Ranges that year and eliminated them in the preliminary round.
But they couldn’t taste victory at home that year. The only home game they played in front of a Nassau crowd ended in an embarrassing 8-3 loss with a combined 170 penalty minutes awarded to both teams.
To get their first taste of victory in the playoffs against their hated rivals, the Nassau faithful would have to wait until 1979.
The Isles had already eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks in four straight games in round one and now faced the Rangers. The Isles were the higher seed and had home ice, but the Rangers took game one by a score of 4-1. The wouldn’t be the case two days later.
Rangers Walt Tkaczuk opened the scoring just three minutes into the game likely putting the Nassau crowd on edge. By the third, with the score at 2-1 for the Rangers, the Isles two Bob’s (Lorimer and Nystrom) would score to take a lead. Phil Esposito would level things at three with a few minutes left in regulation. Again, I’m sure the crowd was nervous with sudden death OT on the way.
That nervous energy quickly turned to jubilation with Denis Potvin scoring eight minutes into the extra frame. Just like that the series was tied 1-1 and the Isles took a game from their most hated rival at home for the first time in franchise history.
Sure, the Isles wouldn’t win the series but on that night I could only imagine that the crowd was rocking thinking about how their team could build off that win and push further into the postseason.